“Text Neck”, What the Heck? Preventing Bad Posture

We live in a world where, whether used for business or pleasure, cell phones are a huge part of our daily lives.  

Personally I don’t go anywhere without my cellphone. 📱🌞  It counts my steps. 🏃‍♀️   I use whatsapp to talk to coworkers and friends. I keep my appointment book in it, all of my contacts,  connnect to social media, and use apps to edit, compose articles and listen to music. Sometimes it seems my life is centered around my tablet and cellphone that keep me connected to the world when I’m away from my home computer. 🌎📱🖥

Always looking at screens can damage our posture and neck pain significantly. 👨‍💻

We all have seen it, we all most likely do it, but what is it doing to our neck? 

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“Text neck”, as it has been termed, can put up to 60lbs of pressure on the cervical and upper spine! That is similar to a small child sitting on your neck, 4 bowling balls hanging from your neck or six grocery bags filled with food hanging from your neck for hours a day!  😦 🎳

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Most careers, as well as social aspects of daily life, require us to be on a computer or cellular device for 50% or more a day!  That makes “text neck” a bigger problem than one might think.

Alone, the human head weighs anywhere between 10-12 pounds, slightly flexing the neck forward even just 15 degrees will increase the pressure to 27lbs, 30 degrees to 40lbs, 45 degrees to 49lbs and 60 degrees to a whopping 60lbs of pressure on the cervical and upper spine (see fig.1).

According to Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a New York back surgeon, in an article published by NPR ( Sullivan, 2014), a person spends an average of 2 to 4 hours per day with their head flexed while texting on a device or reading. This totals to 700 to 1400 hours a year of stress on the cervical spine.  A high school student might increase to 5,000 more hours in that flexed neck posture.

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Here’s a short Youtube video on excercises to relieve “text neck”:

Hadidi and colleagues found in a study (2019) that the neck and shoulder pain associated with the use of cell phone significantly increased with an increase in time spent using the phone and with age. They also noted that pain was greater in females vs males, as females tend to use their phones more than males. Out of the 500 university student participants, 121 reported pain of at least 4/10 and reported seeking medical help due to it correspondingly, making the “text neck” a burden onto the medical system due to costs of its treatments while it is a condition that is highly preventable. 

Therefore, it is important to be aware and try to avoid excessive improper postures to prevent early damage of the cervical/upper spine as well as muscle imbalances caused by poor static postures.

Here are a few tips to prevent excessive text neck: 1) look down with your eyes rather than your head, 2) limit your time, if possible, on your cellular device with taking breaks or holding the device at eye level, 3) have strong postural musculature by performing postural strengthening exercises. 

If you have neck, shoulder or back stiffness/pain that is caused by improper postures, or possible “text neck” sydrome, please, call us to schedule your free evaluation at one of BeneFIT’s locations, Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700)  with one of our highly trained Doctors of Physical Therapy!

 

For more info check out our video on Facebook page!

 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/11/20/365473750/keep-your-head-up-text-neck-can-take-a-toll-on-the-spine

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/what-texting-does-to-the-spine/382890/ww

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527223/pdf/pone.0217231.pdf